Monday, October 21, 2013

Looking in the Face of a Lobster

Lucknow - Greg Keelor
"Many are the roads that are offered
Many are the times that I will stray
Still for all the directions that I've travelled
It is here that my heart will remain"

It's been a long time since I have had the ability to sit and write a few words here. There was a very big change in my life that I had to deal with and in a very brief nutshell that transition was beyond a nightmare that taxed every fiber of my being. Someday I will have the strength to write about that but today isn't that day. 

I have been on a 2 1/2 year quest to find myself and try and return to that person I was before the DPCDSB broke me. I have been searching for so long that it has become a pattern for my whole life. Particularly in this transitional phase with nothing being where it once was. Survival dictated that I had to sell a lot of my personal belonging to pay bills and fight to keep my family home. As time passed and there was no change in my financial status, I began to pack up what was left in preparation for the day when I would be tossed to the street or be forced to give up at least part of my house to strangers. By this time I have no idea where most of my stuff is - sold, packed in a box, in another part of the house. My mind being as weak as it was at that time, I couldn't keep up with the changes. Soon, it didn't matter what it was I usually had to spend some time looking for it. I feared putting my phone on silent because many times I had to phone it to find it. I hid car and house keys outside as a back up. I've always been a "piler" - a pile of papers here, a pile over there - and I write on whatever I can put my hands on and put it in a pile. But when I sold a piece of furniture that held my piles I was screwed! Anyone who practices the fine art of "piles" (and I know I am not alone) knows that to amalgamate piles is a akin to a scrambling eggs. You can never find the yolk again. I am learning to hard boil some eggs to preserve them. Easier to find too unless my mom hid them for the annual Easter Egg hunt. That woman had a worse memory than I. Heredity?  

I put my faith and trust in someone I thought was reputable, but they weren't. Now what I held near and dear to my heart was trashed and unceremoniously dumped on me and some was dumped somewhere that they won't tell me. So I still spend a lot of my time looking for things. Sometimes to be found - sometimes to be mourned. I had to catalogue loss and damage and that was difficult to do through the tears brought on by lamenting loss, damage and the pain of kicking myself for allowing myself to become so vulnerable. It was one step forward and 10 back. In the frustration and exasperation at the thought of yet another fight for survival was too much some days. It was a violation of not only property but a personal one too. 

But there is renewal occurring that I have orchestrated myself. And the music lifts my soul and my heart. Despite multiple family tragedies that have been a direct result of the automobile, I find a weight is lifted off my shoulders when I drive. Like a dog sticking his head out the window and feeling the wind blow through his fur the long paved road clears the cobwebs from my mind, with each new bend in the road comes a new vista and for me a different outlook. Concentrating on the road instead of the problem allows a thought process to happen that wouldn't occur other wise. When left to wander we usually find the right path for us, unencumbered by what society dictates or expects of us. And so, to that end I bucked the system and conventional wisdom. I picked up the pieces of my life and took it down the road to a place where I thought I could find peace. So far so good (expect for that month of transition).

Canada is a wonderfully beautiful diverse country. I admit that (for now at least) my experience lies within the eastern half - the part that Terry Fox himself became very familiar with during his Marathon of Hope. This past August I took the same journey in reverse on my Marathon. In no way to minimize the feat of Terry Fox, I didn't run but it did take a lot of my courage on my part regardless. I began my journey in Thunder Bay. Being born there, growing up there until high school graduation - when I left at the age of 21, I left my family buried there never to be seen again. This visit was final farewell to that place. Never is a long time and I suppose that at some point I may return but I have certainly made it more difficult for that to happen. I will always miss having the opportunity to be with 5 minutes of seeing the Sleeping Giant. What is it about that hunk of rock that yanks me back? It's not like the image of Jesus in a piece of toast that you have to stare at to see...There is a man laying in the water - you can't miss it. The legend of Nanabijou from the Native American stories is fascinating and one I've heard so often that it seems real to me. There's no mistaking the reality of the majestic man sleeping peacefully for all eternity protecting not just the bay but the people who live in Thunder Bay. In the hardest and most trying times of my life when I felt the most despair I got myself to Hillcrest Park where I could sit on the small stone wall, or on the grass in front of it hidden from view and "just be me". The giant man didn't judge but his presence spoke volumes to me and his ears heard my unspoken words and the breeze from the great Superior lake dried my tears. Many times as he showed me the sun's coming and going and I saw hope. I watched the ships slide into port to be filled with the prairie wheat, I longed to board and head off to places unknown away from my pain. But I had seen the workings of a grain elevator and knew the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald that fought and lost the battle of Lake Superior. But from my safe vantage point the water and the waves brought peace. It was my open road before I could drive and take myself away.

Thunder Bay's Sleeping Giant and a lake freighter as seen from Hillcrest Park August 2013
Having said goodbye to my childhood, it was time to say "See ya" to my adulthood. My days as a active parent were ending, but that was okay. I had done my job and I had done it well if I do say so - they weren't babies anymore but fine young adults. She graduated from post-secondary school and spread her wings to embrace her life with the man of her dreams. He graduated from post-secondary school and had left the nest to conquer the world. I would always be there for them but I didn't need to be in their shadow or on their doorstep. I left with their blessing and understanding. It's all I needed. There were other people in my life that were hard to leave behind and they know who they are. If they don't know..they weren't. Looking back now, I don't think that the GTA was ever my home - just a place I hung around from time to time. Some great people, music, shopping and attractions but it certainly became a toxic place for me in the past few years. The people I knew are easy to see and connect with - I miss the ability to see Blue Rodeo as frequently as I had been. Unknowingly, they were a big support for me. But I have my ticket 3 months in advance for their upcoming tour stop in Halifax! :) 

Hasn't Hit Me Yet - Blue Rodeo
"You say that you're leaving Well, that comes as no surprise
Still I kinda like this feelin' Of being left behind

This ain't nothing new to me Well, it's just like goin' home
It's kinda like those sunsets That leave you feelin' so stoned"

I didn't yet get as far as Saint John's, Newfoundland where Terry Fox started his Marathon of Hope but I am within striking distance and I am drawing from his legacy of hope. Even as I was being beaten down in the first month - I could avert my gaze and look to the city and the sea and know that there were good people on the earth and not everyone was going to hurt me. It's different here. That village that came together for the child - that concept didn't need to be taught here. Everyone takes care of each other - regardless of age. I don't think a safer place exists for a pedestrian or cyclist. The homeless, the beggars, the down on their luck - they are respected (even if they aren't paid). People on the phone call you dear or sweetie - they like you and don't even know you. I have walked the streets alone and am never shunned. I feel safe - and I haven't felt that way in many years. This is a city where my guardian angels live where my soul has always belonged. I am home.

There are certain traits in my personality and way of coping that I have come to realize are a direct result of the experiences I had as a child. I suppose that is true for all of us, but I never recognized it or put the pieces of the puzzle together before. There was no need to connect the dots. Not wanting any more hurt or pain, I can write people off and never give them another thought. At the same time they can knock on the door of my heart and I'll let them in again - sometimes to hurt be hurt again. I'm a fool that way. Once bitten twice shy does not apply to me. Life is short and that is driven home when you watch your family die way before their time. You have to make the best of the time you have - so to that end. If I don't like it or I'm not happy, it's up to me to change it. You can't wait for tomorrow, because tomorrow may not be. So with a little of the nomadic spirit that our ancestors had when they moved blindly to another country - I pick up and leave what I know relatively easily and have done it a handful of times. Always within Canada - sometimes 100 miles away, sometimes 1000 miles. Sometimes there is a logical reason, sometimes I follow my heart (and I don't mean love). I've been told it's all very selfish on my part. One of my most drastic moves, I left the only family I knew (including my brother) to move halfway across the country. That time, I used the under-lying excuse of going to school as a reason, but what I never shared with anyone was that there were schools I could have gone to in my neighbourhood but I didn't want to. This last shake up, was probably the most selfish - for this time I left the family I made behind. My children. But staying there was making me into someone I wasn't and it was someone I didn't like and someone my kids didn't know. As much as it hurt for me to cry all the time, it hurt me more to avoid my children so they wouldn't witness it. 

That was then, now I begin anew and try to rebuild and heal. I want the pain to be behind me. I just want to be free. So, if you ever find yourself looking in the face of a fresh caught lobster - look me up, I'm around the corner. Free at last...

"Don't live with lies for they will catch up with you
Don't live with regrets for they will make you sad
Don't live in the past for the past you cannot change - nor should it be forgotten."

Life wavers uncertainly like a broken spider web blowing in the breeze. GLC Inc

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